What does it cost to be a Christian? Everything, everything you have, which is more than what it seems because it reaches not just into our possessions, but into our relationships and use of time as well. The cost of discipleship is great, but it is a cost which is more than just what it seems. Jesus, is on the face of it saying some pretty inflammatory things, which is not a surprise because he's been pretty consistent in his ministry in how it is he calls us to follow him. Problem is, sometimes we don't actually hear what he’s saying. Jesus is using hyperbole in our gospel this morning, giving a statement of incredible exaggeration, to prove a point. While what Jesus is saying to us today about hating our family and giving up everything to follow him is hyperbole, to leave it there fails to hear what Jesus is actually saying to us. Being a follower of Christ is not a popular move, people think we are crazy to follow this big old white dude in the sky, that we are cannibals for eating and drinking a human being. Marriages have been broken up, families divided, traditions torn asunder, and nations spilt all because of how or why we follow this guy named Jesus. So why does Jesus remind us of the cost of following him so much? Because it's not just a matter of why we follow him, but how that matters.
There were days not too long ago where belief in God was seen as a private matter, yet the process of being a believer was a social exercise. Shops and cities were closed on Sundays, the only place open was the church. If you did not attend people looked at us weird, or mumbled about our families to friends, or found that business was not given to our places of work because people did not trust us. This private/public dichotomy was often more about looks than about faith- and while the church did a lot of good in that time, we also did a lot of damage too. We got fat on the privileges of social acceptance. Faith became social, rather than salvific. The church taught that we had to stay with our abusive spouses, because it's what God wants, and that children who don't look white need to be made white- because white is the only colour God sees. So it is, at some level, no wonder people laugh at us and think we are crazy to follow this guy named Christ- yet here we are. So what does any of this mean in our lives today? The world will know what we believe, not by what we say but by what we do- which is exactly what Christ is telling us today.
Being a christian takes a commitment, in a world full of commitments and demands on our time. From the start of a new school year, to our various social programs and things which bring us joy in the everyday- time seems limited and Jesus keeps asking for more of our time every week. Some charismatic christian theology believes that in baptism we are reborn, and that in that rebirth we live only a kingdom life- putting Jesus first. Which is great, but also is what leads to abuse of power and incredibly unhealthy community because on the one hand it's impossible for us to ever forget who we are or what we’ve done as we age, and God never calls the perfect and asks us to live like we never existed before we met him. He asks us to live differently because of the encounter, because God never creates humans as a mistake. Our parable this morning is about how we will live this life with Jesus, with our time, talent, and money, in a world which tells us achievement, power, and financial security are the only way to matter. But Jesus tells us to reject all that, and here is why.
Choosing life with Christ is more than just an idea, it's a way of life. Both in the way we practice what we do everyday, and also in how we choose to oriente ourselves. Life is more than just what we have around us, it's the sources of our Joy, abundance, and love in the everyday. That coffee with a friend, or the silence and beauty of an evening with our spouse cuddled reading on the couch. The glorious sunset at the peak of a mountain after a hike, or the new joy of a life just beginning at the birth of our kids. How we choose to spend our time, is a reflection on what we believe. Do we choose to over work, over achieve, work in isolation, control our environments, drive for results, and crush our goals? Or do we choose to learn with those we work, see our success as the success of others who work for and with us, to work as a team with our coworkers, to let go of control and trust those around us, and realize that the only goal worth achieving is learning to love and serve God with more of our life- and only to use words when we need too? You see that's what matters for Christ and for the world, not what we say we believe- but what we do about what we believe. But how do we do that? We’ll we already are, and I want to invite you to join me this fall in continuing the good work already begun among us. Join with me as we pack, walk, listen, and care for those on the streets through the Neighborhood Ministry. Join with me as we study again the scriptures in Bible Study. Join with me as we gather to build community with food, fun, and fellowship. Join with me again as we welcome the world into this parish building, celebrating the sacraments and the moments of our lives together. Join with me again as we come together this fall to think and dream about what God has in store for this parish. Make God, again, your first priority in your time, in your creativity, and with your money this fall with me, as we together continue to build up the Kingdom of God in this place. This is a lot, Christ asks a lot, and that's the point. Being a Christian is not a passive spectator sport- it requires us to be totally present, available, and fully ourselves in the midst of a world which tells us we are crazy for being here. God is calling us to follow him, in Jesus, with everything we are again this week. How will you respond?